As of July 12th I will have had Gemma at the barn for three months. I can't believe it's been that long already and yet it feels like no time at all. We have had some downs but mostly everything has been an up. Our time together is incredibly fun and she's helping give me a summer of happiness instead of sorrow.
When Gemma first arrived she wasn't quite the horse that the description in her adoption information had described. Instead of friendly and personable she was timid and stand offish. However she has slowly opened up and transformed before my eyes into the very horse that she was described to be.
It took a good month before she was actually curious about me when I would sit in a chair either in her turn out or in the arena with her. For the most part she would just look at me but then one day I saw her checking out the chair while I was exploring the arena. Then shortly after I sat down to spend the non-demanding time with her, she came over and started sniffing me and sharing breath with me. It was such an awesome feeling as she started opening for a connection.
|Gemma standing behind my chair.|
Something I had started doing was also working with her in the arena at liberty (this means no tack on the horse and they are allowed a choice of to either be with you or to not be with you). I soon found that Gemma loved this and started grooming her at liberty. As of last week she has started parking herself at the grooming supplies when she sees that I am ready to begin. There's no other word than amazing to describe how it feels to have your horse make that choice.
|Grooming Gemma at liberty.|
The sitting with her and liberty work is what really started opening the door to our connection. The best thing is that once she started opening up to me she even transferred that to other people. I am so happy to see her doing so.
|Gemma is super curious about what my husband is eating.|
|The vet's creative bandage and Gemma getting some hand grazing time.|
The vet came up with a creative bandage to keep ointment on the wound and she also lived in her fly mask most of the month to help keep the bandage on and then once we were done with bandaging it helped to protect the wound. Now you can hardly tell that she had such a large wound because it's healed down to a small white line.
One thing I have learned is that Gemma absolutely loves carrots. So I have been using them as a reward when she does something extremely well. No, I don't give her a whole carrot, I cut them up into small chunks. This has been furthered by the start of trick training. I now also use a marker ( a cluck sound I make with my tongue) and then she gets the food reward. She is learning very quickly to try and do her best to earn that reward.
I am using this kind of marker and reward to continue with refining her standing at the mounting block. She did not have a very good opinion of it at first. So I started with her at liberty following me over to the mounting block and I'd feed her carrots and pet her while I stood on it. I also started grooming her near it to try and make it a place of rest and relaxation. After about a month of this I started getting more specific about where she stood to get a reward. Then finally I sat on her for a few seconds and gave her some carrot chunks. Then I got off. This all finally led up to our first short ride with no saddle and the halter. Now I don't suggest everyone ride like this. You need to be sure of your horse and your own horsemanship skills.
|Gemma getting a carrot for being so good.|
|Our first ride.|
For safety precautions I made sure to wear my helmet, have my husband there in case anything freaky happened, and didn't take Gemma past a walk.
Gemma is truly turning into an awesome partner and I am falling completely head over heels for this sweet and gentle girl. I never thought I'd have a second soul mate horse and I feel incredibly lucky to have one. God definitely knew what he was doing when he pointed me to Gemma. She is truly my Little Gem and I look forward to our bond continuing to grow deeper. The possibilities are endless and I hope she will continue to have as much fun playing with me as I do with her.
|Gemma and I taking a walk down the road.|